Background: Cough is the commonest symptom for which patients seek medical attention and may be a warning sign of an impending disease.
Objective: To determine the prevalence of cough among adults in an urban community in Nigeria.
Methods: We conducted a cross sectional study among subjects aged >18 years from May 2009 to October 2009 in Ilorin, Nigeria. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect the data. The American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) and the European Respiratory Society (ERS) cough guidelines were used to define acute, sub acute and chronic cough.
Results: A total of 472 subjects participated in this study, 238(50.4%) were men and 234(49.6%) were women. Ninety-seven (20.6%) had cough in the preceeding 12 months. Thirty-one (6.6%) had cough at the time of interview, of which 17(3.6%) were productive. The prevalence of acute cough was 3.8%, sub acute 1.7% and chronic cough was 1.1%. All types of cough were common in those aged <45 years, unskilled workers, low educational attainment, while chronic cough was common in the women. The risk of coughing increased with tobacco smoking and the number of sticks smoked per day. Majority of subjects with acute cough [16(88.9%)], sub acute cough [8(100%)] and chronic cough [3(60 %)], were yet to consult a doctor.
Conclusion: Our study revealed a low prevalence of cough among adults in this urban community in Nigeria. It is imperative to enlighten the community on the importance of seeking early treatment for cough, which may be a warning sign of life threatening lung disease.